Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

'Nation-state' bill sparks controversy in Israel

Read more

FRENCH CONNECTIONS

Champions du monde! What Les Bleus' World Cup win means for France

Read more

FOCUS

Young women in China go under the knife to improve job prospects

Read more

ENCORE!

Film show: Why we love 'Ant-man and the Wasp'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Brussels to slap $5 billion fine on Google

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Eurogroup chief Centeno: 'We need to put an end to what seems to be a trade war in the making'

Read more

ENCORE!

Gender questions take centre stage at Avignon’s theatre festival

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Mandela commemorations: Barack Obama honours Madiba's legacy

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Trump backtracks on Russian meddling

Read more

Business

Former LafargeHolcim CEO charged over terror financing allegations

© AFP file photo

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-12-08

Former LafargeHolcim CEO Eric Olsen was indicted and place under judicial supervision late Thursday over allegations that the Swiss-French cement-maker indirectly financed jihadists in Syria, sources close to the case said.

Olsen had been taken in for questioning Wednesday, along with Former Lafarge CEO Bruno Lafont and former deputy managing director for operations Christian Herrault. Lafont and Herrault remain in police custody.

Olsen served as CEO of LafargeHolcim after its creation two years ago, when French cement maker Lafarge merged with Swiss giant Holcim. He resigned in July of this year because of the allegations against him, but denied wrongdoing. He had previously served as head of human resources for Lafarge.

A supervisor of Syrian operations was also reportedly questioned on Wednesday.

The charges stem from actions Lafarge took before the merger. Lafarge is accused of paying the Islamic State group and other militants through a middleman so that the company's factory in Jalabiya, northern Syria, could continue to operate as the war raged around it. LafargeHolcim previously admitted the compay had taken “unacceptable measure” to avoid disruptions and keep the plant running.

Three former officials at the Jalabiya factory were questioned by French authorities last week..

Lafont headed Lafarge from 2006 until the merger in 2015, and served as co-chairman of LafargeHolcim until April this year.

Investigators are seeking to determine whether he was aware of millions of dollars paid to various armed groups including IS.

Herrault told investigators early this year that "either you agreed to the racket or you left" Syria, adding that he had had "discussions" with Lafont.

Lafont insisted that he believed "things were under control" and there was no reason to flee the war-torn country.

Lafarge's Syrian subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria (LCS) paid out some $5.6 million (4.7 million euros) between July 2012 and September 2014, according to an April report commissioned by LafargeHolcim and seen by AFP.

LCS is also suspected of using fake consulting contracts to buy fuel from IS, which took control of most of Syria's strategic oil reserves in June 2013.

Frederic Jolibois, who took over as manager of the Jalabiya factory in 2014, was charged with financing terrorism, violating an EU embargo on Syrian oil and "endangering others' lives".

His predecessor as factory chief Bruno Pescheux and security boss Jean-Claude Veillard have also been charged.

Jolibois has admitted to buying oil from "non-governmental organisations", notably Kurdish and Islamist groups, in violation of the EU embargo declared in 2011.

Pescheux has meanwhile admitted Lafarge paid up to $100,000 a month to Syrian tycoon Firas Tlass, a former minority shareholder who gave cash to armed factions in order to keep the factory open.

IS would have received around $20,000, Pescheux estimated.

Lafarge hung on in Syria for two years after most French companies had left as IS made major territorial gains.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2017-12-08

  • SYRIA

    Lafarge chairman cites 'unacceptable errors' in Syria after three executives charged

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Lafarge's Paris, Brussels offices searched over alleged links to Syria jihadists

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Call for French ex-minister Fabius to face questions in Lafarge-IS probe

    Read more

COMMENT(S)